October 8, 2022
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Fall can be a tricky time for those with curly hair. The weather is changing and your hair may not know how to react. Just as we need to tailor our skincare routine to the seasons, so too must we adjust our autumn hair care routine.
Given that we are now in cooler and drier weather, people with curly hair might be wondering how to best take care of their locks. After all, no one wants to have frizzy hair during the fall season!
The environment has an impact on our hair, and the quality of our hair is greatly influenced by weather conditions such as pollution, temperature, and humidity.
Hair is a porous fiber made of keratin protein. It tends to absorb moisture from the surrounding air.1 The outer hair surface also adsorbs solid particulates e.g. pollution particles.
As winter approaches (sooner in some parts of the world than others), and the temperature starts to drop, the air becomes drier. This has a significant impact on both the physical and cosmetic properties of hair.
Because curly hair is more fragile and drier than other hair types, it is extremely vulnerable to the harsh winter weather. 2 – 3 Hair becomes frizzy and difficult to style and manage.
So, what exactly happens to hair? Furthermore, how can you preserve curly hair care in the fall and winter months? Let’s look at some scientific facts.
Two key factors that change in winter are:
✓ Temperature drops
✓ Low humidity
Hair is porous and contains millions of tiny pores all over its upper surface. These pores provide a channel pathway for water molecules and other active ingredients to penetrate deep inside the hair fiber.
Keratin absorbs water molecules from the surrounding air and swells. This water absorption by keratin works under the concentration gradient.4-5
During winter, the humidity is low. The air becomes dry and hair loses its moisture content. As a result, it becomes dry and brittle.
Under severe dry and frosty conditions, hair may get severe dryness and cracks may appear along its shaft.
When humidity levels are high, it’s the opposite. The more water molecules in the air (high humidity), the higher the absorption and the greater the magnitude of hair swelling.
In short, the Autumn season negatively impacts hair quality and texture, causing:
• Severe frizz
• Physical cracks or hair breakage
• Curls get knots
• Distorted Curls
So, how can we prevent this winter-induced hair damage under low temperature and low humidity conditions?
The weather isn’t only changing outside–it’s affecting your hair, too. Thus, updating and adjusting your hair care routine for the new season is crucial.
Maintaining the moisture level of your hair is vital to its quality, cosmetic features, and overall appearance. Water is the key factor in this process.
By retaining moisture in your curly hair, you can improve its overall health and style, as well as make it easier to manage.
There are two main ways to maintain the hair’s moisture levels and keep the water molecules inside the hair fiber.
1. Add more water to the hair fiber.
2. Prevent water loss from hair fiber.
The inclusion of these molecules in a formulation means allows it to bind water molecules from the surrounding air and deliver them to hair. This enhances hair moisture levels and addresses the issue of dry, frizzy, and rough hair.
However, these traditional humectants (glycerin) have some drawbacks. Their performance or efficacy, in terms of delivering moisture to hair, is variable and depends on the level of humidity.
At low humidity, when air is dry, there are fewer water molecules in the surrounding air, whereas more molecules are present inside hair.
Instead of adding moisture to the hair fibers, these humectants can actually begin extracting water molecules from the hair fiber.
Instead of being beneficial, they could be detrimental to hair health leaving it drier, brittle, and frizzy. So, we as consumers should avoid traditional humectants.
New technologies for moisturizing ingredients are now available, and they’re gaining a lot of attention from buyers and formulators.
The examples are:
These molecules are very different from glycerin or propylene glycol. They have higher water binding capacity and thus are more effective even under low humidity and dry conditions.
Also, they do not cause any tackiness or heaviness that is typically observed with glycerin.
Emollients are oily materials having lipophilic chemical properties. They are water-insoluble and thus difficult to remove quickly.
In the winter, their application is critical to retaining hair moisture levels. These molecules form a water-resistant coating on the hair shaft, preventing the loss of water molecules from the hair surface.
Emollients are highly efficient in low-humidity conditions since they are not affected or influenced by dry conditions or humidity. However, the key is choosing the right oils.
Due to their multi-functionality, sustainability, and nature-derived benefits, natural oils or butter are preferred.
Particularly, lightly textured oils or butter are preferred because of their non-greasy feel and superior sensorial sensation.
Cuticle health is vital for smooth and aligned curl patterns as they are the first site of contact with frosty and dry winter conditions. Applying regularly a good moisturizing conditioner is highly recommended.
Cationic conditioning agents, especially cationic surfactants play an important role in achieving healthy hair cuticles.
Of these agents, long-chain quaternary molecules are common and preferred by formulators. They offer amazing slip, ease in wet and dry combing, and cuticle alignment.
To keep your curls well conditioned, apply conditioner right after washing your curls, and apply a good leave-in conditioner before going outside.
This will help lock in moisture all day long, keeping your natural curl shape and definition intact.
• Baobab oil – is an excellent emollient with multifunctional benefits.
• Batana oil – African origin, it is a natural remedy to dry and brittle curls.
• Jojoba Oil – Liquid wax with a characteristic sensorial feel and moisturizing effects.
• Sesame Seed Oil – A powerful natural antioxidant with a non-greasy coating, light texture.
• Castor Oil – A unique natural moisturizer with very different aesthetic and sensorial properties.
• Shea Butter – An African Gift, highly moisturizing, lipid coating and detangling benefits.
• Betaine – a natural moisturizing agent, a high-tech material with extra-ordinary water binding ability.
• Propanediol – A natural moisturizing agent, frequently sought to replace traditional humectants (glycerin, propylene glycol).
• Behentrimonium Chloride or Methosulfate– Both are cationic detanglers that align cuticles and provide a conditioning effect.
• Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine or Behenamidopropyl Dimethylamine – cationic detanglers with a light texture and special conditioning effect.
Formulated with rice amino acids, this conditioner seals the hair shaft to lock out moisture from the environment, helping to keep your curls looking soft, bouncy, and shiny.
In addition to providing hydration and sealing the cuticle, this curl-defining conditioner is packed with nourishing ingredients like tomato fruit ferment, mollis leaf extract, shea butter, and sweet almond oil.
These ingredients work together to moisturize and soften your hair while giving it the body and bounce you want without weighing it down. And thanks to the protective benefits of quinoa extract, your curls will be more resilient against damage from styling or environmental factors.
Formulated with organic aloe as the first ingredient, this conditioner is free of harmful chemicals and synthetic ingredients like silicones and parabens. It is safe for color-treated hair and is perfect for vegans looking for a cruelty-free product.
With its winning combination of nourishing ingredients, this conditioner is sure to be your go-to choice. I like to sometimes use this as a deep conditioner by leaving it in for 5-10 minutes before rinsing out.
Looking for a conditioner that will leave your hair silky soft and knot-free? This is the one! This all-in-one conditioner is infused with luxurious oils like baobab, grapefruit, jojoba, and peppermint to hydrate, nourish, and smooth your hair.
Plus, the unique formula of baobab oil coats your strands with slippery fats that unlock tangles and knots, making it the perfect choice for anyone with unruly or difficult hair. This conditioner is especially good for low porosity hair.
This unique formula is free from sulfates, providing intense moisture and nourishment to dry, frizzy hair without weighing it down or leaving behind unwanted residue.
With its blend of Fair Trade Shea Butter and other natural ingredients, this conditioner helps to give your curls and coils beautiful shine and softness with every use, and of course during the fall and winter season.
This conditioner is perfect for tighter textured coils. If you have high-porosity hair that needs a ton of moisture, then this is for you.
This product is formulated with nourishing ingredients that work to soften and smooth coily textures, making it an ideal choice for those with dry or damaged hair.
And best of all, this conditioner is free of parabens, SLS/SLES, cyclic silicones, phthalates, and formaldehyde, so you can rest assured that it is safe for your hair.
This intensive hydration conditioner from SheaMoisture is perfect for anyone with dry, damaged hair.
The formula is rich and nourishing, infused with restorative oils like manuka honey, mafura oil, and fig extract. It quickly detangles and moisturizes hair, leaving it soft and silky smooth.
This nourishing formula is made with rare, clarifying blue tansy oil, as well as moisturizing argan oil and sunflower seed extract, to provide intense moisture and help prevent color fade.
It is also vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, petrolatum-free, and formaldehyde-free, making it a great choice for those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin.
This leave in treatment has fastly become one of my favorites! This is an excellent leave in treatment to use if you’ve dyed your hair or experienced thermal damage.
This powerful formula is packed with essential amino acids and other nutrients that are essential for proper color attachment within the hair.
Ceramide-2 and tyrosine work together to provide deep healing, repairing damaged strands and preventing fading and uneven color.
With its lightweight, versatile formula, this treatment is perfect for restoring your hair’s health and vibrancy while protecting your precious color.
This leave in conditioner is best for over processed or color treated hair. It is formulated with nourishing ingredients like fair trade Shea Butter and Jamaican Black Castor Oil.
This conditioner is perfect for kinky hair, curly or wavy natural styles as well as straight hair that has been damaged by heat styling or chemical treatments.
It helps to soften and detangle hair while controlling frizz, leaving locks looking sleek, smooth, and healthy.
This conditioner is best for tight curls and coils. This lightweight formula is packed with natural oils and honey to hydrate, detangle, and condition your curls, leaving them looking smooth and frizz-free.
Whether you’re washing your hair or putting it into a protective style, this leave-in conditioner is the perfect way to seal in moisture and give your curls the definition they need.
This is a plant-based formula infused with natural oils, fragrant herbs, and flower essences to condition, hydrate, and soothe even the most delicate hair.
This lightweight leave-in conditioner works well with all hair types, thanks to ingredients like tamanu oil, rosemary, lavender, and rooibos tea.
These ingredients are ethically sourced from trusted, transparent plantations and farms around the world, resulting in a formula that is completely free of parabens, sulfates, and other harmful chemicals.
Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-in Defining Crème This conditioner is made with rice amino acids, this formula helps seal the hair cuticle and lock out frizz-causing humidity, while tomato fruit ferment enhances moisture retention to support uniform curl formation.
Ultra-hydrating avocado oil works to keep your curls soft and bouncy, making it the perfect choice for those with wavy, curly, or coily hair types.
This powerful, multi-tasking mist provides superior protection from heat and UV damage, leaving your hair soft, smooth, and tangle-free.
With amino acid blend, tamarind seed extract, and vitamin E, this leave-in conditioner also delivers deep nourishment to every strand of hair, giving you gorgeous shine and silky smoothness.
I like to use this a my leave in conditioner on days when I’m not a regular leave in conditioner. This has a very thick consistency, and has so many good-for-your-hair ingredients.
This unique formula is made with a blend of exotic oils from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean regions.
It contains organic black seed oil, avocado oil, Egyptian abyssinian oil, Moroccan rose oil, argan oil, and many other nourishing botanical extracts.
The Clump & Define Cream is packed with beneficial ingredients that help to soften and condition your hair while providing light hold. It’s perfect for styling your hair while keeping it feeling lightweight and smooth.
This clinically proven hair mask works to strengthen and prevent future damage in just two uses, making it the perfect solution for those with dry, damaged, or color-treated hair.
Formulated with rosehip oil, B-vitamins, and algae extract, this hydrating formula is loaded with powerful antioxidants that restore essential moisture to dry, brittle hair.
Whether your hair has been over-processed from coloring or other chemical treatments or simply damaged from environmental factors like heat styling and UV exposure, this mask will help nourish and fortify your strands to leave them looking healthy and shiny.
This powerful conditioning treatment utilizes a blend of natural ingredients to deeply nourish and soften your hair, leaving it voluminous, elastic, and workable. With regular use, your curls and waves will be beautifully restored to their former glory.
This buttery, coil-enhancing styling cream is formulated with our signature Coco Crème formula to help add definition, shine, and softness to your curls.
Whether you’re rocking 4c curly hairstyle or loose waves in the 2c range, this nourishing hair mask is perfect for naturally curly hair.
It contains sweet almond oils, shea butter, and coconut oil to hydrate and nourish your coils for beautiful, healthy-looking locks.
This luxurious hair mask is infused with rice water, which is known for its powerful moisturizing and strengthening properties.
Whether you have tight coils, loose waves, or somewhere in between, this curly hair mask will nourish and hydrate your strands, leaving them feeling soft, silky, and healthy.
It’s also formulated with Moringa seed extract, which is known for its ability to promote hair growth.
• Minimize your exposure to dry winter conditions.
• Avoid excessive washing; always use a gentle moisturizing shampoo.
• Use a deep conditioner that has a blend of cationic conditioning agents, humectants and natural emollients and butter.
• Always apply a leave-in conditioner before going outdoors.
• Once or twice a week at least, massage your hair with your preferred oil.
1. Zviak, C., The Science of Hair Care. Taylor & Francis: 1986.
2. Bernard, B. A., Hair shape of curly hair. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 2003, 48 (6, Supplement), S120-S126.
3. Syed, A. N.; Syed, M. In Curly Hair: Structure, Properties, and Care, Society of Cosmetics Chemists, 75th, NY, USA, NY, USA, 2021.
4. Robbins, C. R., Chemical and physical behavior of human hair. 4th ed.; Springer-Verlag: New York, 2002.
5. Popescu, C.; Hocker, H., Hair – the most sophisticated biological composite material. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2007, 36 (8), 1282-1291.
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